An employer can suspend an employee from work if their health and safety is in danger. This can be either a:
- medical suspension, for example if they have a serious allergic reaction to a chemical they use at work
- suspension for maternity reasons, for example if they’re pregnant and work in a lab that uses radiation
Before an employee can be suspended
Employers must review the employee’s risk assessment before suspending them.
Before female employees can be suspended for maternity reasons
There are additional rules before an employer can suspend employees who:
- could become pregnant
- are pregnant
- gave birth less than 6 months ago or who are breastfeeding
The employer must follow these steps in order, and only move on to the next step if the situation is not resolved.
Take reasonable steps to remove, reduce or control any risks to the employee and her baby - for example, by preventing exposure to the risk or providing protective equipment.
Try to temporarily adjust the employee’s working conditions or working hours.
Offer the employee suitable alternative work on their normal terms and conditions.
Suspend the employee on full pay. This will last as long as the employee, or her baby, is in danger.
Employees’ pay when suspended
The employee has the right to normal pay (including bonuses) for up to 26 weeks, as long as they’ve been in their job for a month or more.
This isn’t the same as Statutory Sick Pay. The employee doesn’t have to be signed off by a GP.
Employers should deduct tax and National Insurance through payroll in the normal way.
Employees won’t have the right to pay if they:
- are an independent contractor or agency worker
- refuse other suitable work from their employer without a good reason
- aren’t available when needed for suitable alternative work
Problems with suspension on medical grounds
If the issue can’t be solved informally, the employee can raise a grievance.
The employer must respond to the grievance by following their written grievance procedure.